UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help stars Joebert Almodiel and Rey Taneo considered the early exit of graduating setter Warren Catipay as added motivation for the Altas to complete its finals comeback in the NCAA Season 93 men's volleyball tournament.
Catipay got hurt after an awkward landing that forced him to sit out for the remainder of the decider of the best-of-three finals against Arellano University on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
The score was tied, 23-23, at the time of the injury before AU scored the set’s last two points to take the first set.
But what happened only fueled the fire inside a champion’s heart.
“Ginawa din naming motivation si Kuya Warren,” said Almodiel. “Kahit wala siya sa loob ng court, tinapangan namin ang mga sarili namin at tinibayan namin ang loob namin at naglaro kami as one team.”
"Nung nawala 'yung main setter namin, tinake lang namin as challenge and nilagyan namin ng puso, pride at tapang,” added Taneo.
Almodiel stressed that they wanted Catipay and other graduating players - Taneo and Jack Kalingking - to have a graceful exit.
The Altas regrouped in the second set, overcoming a 21-23, deficit before Almodiel and Taneo teamed up to even the match.
UPH was pushed to the limit late in the fourth set after AU looked to force a decider, 19-12, but the Altas held on en route to win the match, 23-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-23.
Almodiel, who steered UPH to a nine-match elimination round sweep, stressed that he waited for this moment and nothing can stop him - not losing one of their key players.
“Kasi ‘yun po talaga since ‘di pag nagsimula ang NCAA, gusto ko makatungtong ng championship as a rookie,” he said.
“Kasi doon (championship) ko mabubuhos ‘yung ano ko, doon ko mailalabas ang natutunan ko sa the whole year na nag-train kami,” he added.
After the indoor volleyball tournament, Almodiel has one more mission.
He and Finals MVP Rey Taneo will see action in the beach volleyball tournament next week.